Photo: Wat Jong Kham, Mae Hong Son.

Ban Rak Thai (formerly known as Mae Aw)

Our rating:

Another former KMT army post, the border village of Ban Rak Thai has reinvented itself as a kind of mini

Photo of Ban Rak Thai (formerly known as Mae Aw)">Mae Salong-style tourist destination.

Tea has replaced opium and flocks of tourists (especially Chinese), head here to sample the local brews and eat in cafes serving Yunnanese specialities. The village is quite cute with plenty of old South Chinese-style cottages along a winding road around a small lake in the centre. Low hills covered in tea plantations surround the village and the border is a mere kilometre or so past the village. We found the cafes and restaurants grossly overpriced though, and the tea tasting far better in much more scenic Mae Salong. And while the village has numerous (also overpriced) guesthouses, we’re slightly at a loss to know why anyone would wish to stay here overnight.

In fact, the best thing about Ban Rak Thai is the scenic 44-kilometre drive to get there through some beautiful countryside and cute villages. You can, conditions permitting, cross the border if you leave your passport (and some cash) with the immigration police, but you have to return before 17:00. We didn’t try this, so can’t guarantee it works and are not sure what there is to see over the border either.

How to get there
Ban Rak Thai is just under 45 kilometres from Mae Hong Son town. Take Route 1095 north out of town for 16 kilometres or so and you’ll see a turning on your left heading up to the border and Ban Rak Thai. This road (no number) passes the mud baths before arriving after some 27 kilometres at Ban Rak Thai. The road is sealed but mountainous. (A short distance before Ban Rak Thai the Hmong village of Na Pa Paek has an excellent coffee shop.)

By .

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Mae Hong Son.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Mae Hong Son.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Mae Hong Son.
 Read up on how to get to Mae Hong Son, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Mae Hong Son? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Thailand with Tourradar.

Like what you see? Then you’ll love our newsletter

The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.